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InFocus IN8606HD Projector Review

InFocus IN8606HD Projector Review

by Bill Livolsi on May 22, 2014  |  ProjectorCentral.com  |  Subscribe
Performance
4
Features
Ease of Use
Value
Intended Use:
DIY Home Theater
InFocus IN8606HD Projector InFocus IN8606HD
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10000:1 Contrast Ratio
2500 Lumens
Full HD 3D
Street Price: n/a

The InFocus IN8606HD is a 1080p home video projector that boasts 2,500 lumens maximum output, a claimed 10,000:1 on/off contrast ratio, and a street price well below $1000. Its 1.5:1 zoom lens makes it easier to set up, while a 10W mono speaker provides a built-in sound option when nothing else is available. The long-life lamp can last 6,000 hours in the projector's Eco mode, and inexpensive replacements make the projector a good value over the long run. The IN8606HD also includes some higher-end features, such as ISF Day and Night modes, a 12V trigger and 144Hz Triple Flash 3D plus a VESA 3D sync port.

The Viewing Experience

The IN8606HD starts up for the first time in Presentation mode, the name of which is a clue that the projector isn't purpose-built for home video. Presentation mode measures 1085 lumens and is ideal for TV and video use in rooms with a lot of ambient light despite a slight blue tint. If home theater is more your cup of tea, the IN8606HD's Movie mode at 703 lumens has unusually accurate color right out of the box, so you can start watching right away.

With a quality HD source, the IN8606HD's image in Movie mode is quite good. Light output is significantly lower than in the brightest image modes, but contrast is higher, shadow detail is better, and the image is more natural and balanced. If you can spare the light output, Movie mode is where you'll want to spend most of your viewing time.

The IN8606HD has Full HD 3D compatibility and uses 144Hz DLP Link glasses, which are not included. The 3D image is clean and clear, just as we've come to expect from the latest generation of DLP Link. But the IN8606HD also includes a VESA 3D sync port, so you can connect an emitter for infrared or radio-frequency 3D glasses if you prefer those technologies.

Setup and Configuration

The combination of lens and offset make the IN8606HD ideal for either table placement or a ceiling mount. The 1.5:1 manual zoom lens, rare among inexpensive video projectors, allows the projector to display a 100" diagonal image from 10' 1" to 15' 2" of throw. The lens has a fixed throw offset of 14% of image height, so the bottom edge of that 100" diagonal image will be 7" above the lens centerline if the projector is table mounted (or 7" below if ceiling mounted).

The IN8606HD also includes a 12V trigger, which is especially useful if you have a motorized screen. The 12V trigger can be used with a number of other accessories and is typically found on more costly home theater models, so its inclusion in the IN8606HD is a pleasant surprise.

As for screen selection, it depends largely on application. In a dark theater, Movie mode's 703 lumens are enough to light a 120" diagonal 1.3 gain screen to 21 foot-Lamberts, giving you a poppy, compelling picture. If you want to use Eco-mode, you can get similar screen brightness by using a 100" diagonal screen instead of a 120"; this also allows you to switch into high lamp mode when watching 3D. In moderate ambient light, Presentation mode's 1085 lumens will create a compelling picture on an 80" diagonal screen, but attempting to use the projector on a larger screen or in brighter light would require Bright mode.

Key Features

Image quality. The IN8606HD produces a great picture. While the projector's brighter modes necessarily sacrifice contrast and color to produce more lumens, they can still be useful in rooms with a lot of ambient light. And Movie and sRGB mode put the IN8606HD neck and neck with other home video projectors in the sub-$1000 price range when it comes to home theater performance.

Placement flexibility. A 1.5:1 zoom lens gives the IN8606HD unusual versatility. The long zoom range makes it easier to mount your projector in a home theater or set up the image size you want during portable use. The IN8606HD does not have lens shift, but a 14% upward throw offset is in the right range for coffee table and ceiling mount use.

Lamp. The IN8606HD uses a 230W OSRAM lamp (part number SP-LAMP-085) that has a life rating of 4,500 hours at full power and 6,000 hours in Eco mode. That lifespan is longer than many of the IN8606HD's competitors; also unlike many competitors, the projector has a six-month lamp warranty instead of the typical 90 days. Replacement lamps are inexpensive by projector standards, at $229 retail. You may find them for less if you do some shopping here. Authentic replacement lamps made and marketed by Infocus and sold through their authorized resellers have a one-year warranty according to InFocus' website, which is a great deal longer than most lamp warranties. Lamp changes are performed through the IN8606HD's top panel, so it's easy to swap the lamp even if your projector is ceiling mounted.

VESA port. Many inexpensive 3D projectors are locked into one particular glasses technology. But the IN8606HD's VESA 3D sync port allows you to connect an external emitter and use infrared or radio-frequency 3D glasses instead of the default DLP Link.

ISFccc. Short for Certified Calibration Control, ISFccc adds two hidden image modes (ISF Day and ISF Night) to the IN8606HD that become available after your projector is professionally calibrated. It does not add any additional controls or service menu options -- the calibrator has to use the same RGB Gain/Bias and color management system that every user can access. It is simply a way for your projector to store professional calibrations in two locked, non-volatile presets.

Onboard speaker. The IN8606HD includes a 10W mono speaker that's useful as a last resort if you have no other sound output options available. A 10W speaker will never measure up to a dedicated home theater sound system, but it's useful if you want to bring the projector over to a friend's house and don't want to lug your entire system along with you. At maximum volume we did notice some tinny distortion, but turning it down a few notches produced much cleaner sound while still being quite loud.

12V Trigger. Often found in higher-end projectors, a 12-volt trigger links the IN8606HD to a motorized screen or any number of other accessories. This is especially helpful if you want to install the projector in your living room without sacrificing an entire wall for a fixed-frame screen.

Dynamic Dimming. Instead of an auto iris, the IN8606HD has Dynamic Dimming. Dynamic Dimming (DD) reduces lamp power when darker scenes are being shown and then boosts it when brighter content is displayed. DD is automatically enabled when Eco mode is selected.

Performance

Light output. The IN8606HD's brightest mode, called Bright, clocked in at 1830 lumens on our projector. White balance in Bright mode is tinted towards green, which makes it a mode best reserved for those times when you really truly need the extra light output, but it does get the job done in a bright room.

Presentation mode, at 1085 lumens, has much better color than Bright mode. The picture is slightly bluish, but not offensively so, and both black level and contrast are greatly improved. Presentation mode is an excellent choice for watching TV or movies in a room with mild to moderate ambient light.

The IN8606HD best mode for home theater is Movie, at 703 lumens. Movie mode is where you'll find the best shadow detail, as well as the best color accuracy and the most natural-looking image.

There are other image presets, as well: TV (712 lumens), sRGB (576 lumens), Game (723 lumens), and Blackboard, which inverts the image so black is white and vice versa.

If any image mode is too bright, you can engage Eco mode to reduce light output by 24%. Eco mode also engages Dynamic Dimming, a feature that reduces lamp power and image brightness in response to on-screen content -- like an iris, only lamp-driven.

The IN8606HD's long 1.5:1 zoom lens loses 21% of its total light output when used at the telephoto end of its range (the smallest image for a given throw distance). That's typical of 1.5:1 zoom lenses, but it does mean you should consider placement if you're working in a room where maximum light output is a concern.

Contrast. Bright projectors tend to have so-so black levels, and the IN8606HD is a bright projector. Its black level is not noticeably worse than most of its competitors, but if you use the projector in a home theater environment you will be able to see black bars quite clearly. The projector's default 2.4 gamma in Movie mode can tend to crush deep shadow detail and contributes to closed-off mid-tones, but switching to 2.2 gamma reduces these effects while also raising black level a touch.

Color. In addition to respectable color in Movie mode, the IN8606HD offers RGB Gain/Bias adjustments for fine-tuning white balance and a full color management system so you can adjust the gamut.

Input lag. The IN8606HD measured 33 milliseconds of input lag in every image mode. This is equivalent to two frames of a 60 fps signal. The projector's Game mode does not decrease lag, but 33 ms is already quite good.

Limitations

Rainbow effect. The IN8606HD uses a 2x-speed, six-segment RGBCMY color wheel, so anyone sensitive to the rainbow effect is likely to see it here. Rainbows are more visible when a dark scene has a few bright highlights or when objects on screen are in rapid motion -- anything that causes your eyes to move rapidly across the screen can trigger them.

No control panel. Aside from a power button, there are no controls on the projector itself. Instead, you're stuck using the credit-card-sized remote control, which has mushy tactile feedback, is not illuminated, and feels finicky about actually engaging the menu option you're trying to hit. The remote takes button-style batteries, so be sure to keep a few spares on hand.

Non-adjustable display modes. If you want to fine-tune your projector but don't want to pay someone to calibrate it, you're stuck with the IN8606HD's single User mode for your calibrations. The included image modes are all locked down, and any settings adjustments will kick you over to User mode.

Non-defeatable DD. Some folks like Dynamic Dimming and think it's a great feature. Others don't. The latter group are out of luck, because DD is engaged whenever you use Eco-mode and there is no menu option available to turn it off.

Shootout:
InFocus IN8606HD versus BenQ W1070

The BenQ W1070 is one of our favorite home video projectors in the sub-$1000 price class, and on paper it's quite similar to the InFocus IN8606HD. Both projectors are DLP-driven 1080p video machines rated at 2000 lumens or more and 10,000:1 contrast. Both use 144Hz DLP Link glasses (though the IN8606HD has a VESA port and the W1070 does not). Both have an onboard 10W speaker. Both have low input lag and are acceptable for gaming. Both have long-life lamps that top out at 6,000 hours in Eco mode. In other aspects, though, the two projectors are quite different.

At their factory settings, both projectors produce acceptable color, but the IN8606HD is slightly closer to ideal. If you plan to calibrate your projector, this difference largely disappears -- both projectors have full color management systems and RGB gain/bias adjustments for white balance. After calibration, color on the W1070 and IN8606HD was close to identical.

The W1070 has incrementally deeper blacks, more openness in mid-tones, and does a better job at preserving the deepest shadow detail. Switching the IN8606HD to 2.2 gamma helps to fix mid-tones and crushed detail, but it also widens the W1070's black level advantage.

The W1070 is brighter in its cinema-optimized mode, producing 1220 lumens in Cinema mode to the IN8606HD's 703 lumens. At maximum brightness, the IN8606HD's Bright mode at 1830 lumens edges out the W1070 at 1554 lumens. Despite this, the W1070 produces less fan noise than the IN8606HD during operation.

The IN8606HD's 1.5:1 zoom lens gives it a wider throw range than the W1070's 1.3:1, but the W1070 does include some vertical lens shift -- a feature that the IN8606HD lacks. Head-to-head testing did reveal a bit more chromatic aberration on the IN8606HD, as well as some softness in the corners of the image that was not present on the W1070. Neither of these problems are exactly crucial, but they contribute to an overall feeling that the IN8606HD's increased zoom range comes with some compromises.

If you're one of the unlucky folks who sees rainbow artifacts, the W1070 is much less likely to produce them. The IN8606HD has a 2x-speed RGBCMY color wheel, while the W1070 has a 6x-speed RGBRGB wheel. While many people will see rainbows on a 2x speed wheel, very few will witness them on a 6x speed wheel -- myself included.

Both the IN8606HD and the W1070 are ISFccc certified, so a professional calibrator can access the ISF Day/Night memory settings for you. But in the meantime, the W1070 allows you to adjust both the preset and User image modes, while the IN8606HD's image modes are all locked save one.

From an ease-of-use standpoint, the W1070 has a control panel on top of the projector (the IN8606HD does not) and the W1070's remote control is backlit and easy to read (the IN8606HD's is not).

The IN8606HD definitely has some advantages; the projector's long zoom lens makes it easier to install in some situations, and its factory preset color is more accurate. Folks who need maximum brightness will get more of it from the IN8606HD, too. But if you are sensitive to rainbows, or enjoy calibrating your projector, or need the extra lumens from Cinema mode, the W1070 may be a better option.

Conclusion

The IN8606HD is the latest in a long, long line of InFocus video projectors stretching back more than ten years. With its native 1080p resolution, sub-$1000 price point, and high light output, the IN8606HD is a solid performer in the living room and a decent choice for entry-level home theater. Features like a 1.5:1 zoom lens, 12V trigger, long-life lamp, and VESA 3D port help to distinguish the IN8606HD among the competition. However, the inclusion of a 2x-speed color wheel limits the IN8606HD's appeal, as does the lack of a hardwired control panel, the uncomfortable remote control, and the inability to adjust preset image modes or disable features like Dynamic Dimming.

All in all, the IN8606HD is a solid projector, but stiff competition in the sub-$1000 home video projector market means that it is not the top performer in any particular area, making it a hard sell to budget-conscious consumers who want the best bang for their buck.

(08/22/19 - 07:25 PM PST)
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